The clock is ticking on the internal combustion engine, they say. Dead as a doornail by 2035, they say, thanks to laws like California's that will ban the sale of new ICE passenger vehicles that year. They say wrong. Lost in all the brouhaha (Firesign Theatre fans, I got you) is that there's a carveout for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that can go at least 50 miles on a charge before switching to gas/electric hybrid mode.
And now, there is one.
This is the 2023 Range Rover Sport Autobiography. A PHEV that can go (drum roll) 51 miles on a charge before switching to a mix of electrons and dead dinosaurs. This is a big deal because until now, the longest range from a mass-produced PHEV was the Toyota RAV4 Prime at 42 miles. This beats that by nine and hits the 2035 target 11 and a half years ahead of deadline. With a 50-mile round-trip commute, recharging every night in your garage or every day at work, you could go all week without using a drop of gasoline or putting a particle of pollution in the air. And the tank of gas that's there for when you need to go farther? That can last months.
All this eco-friendliness lives in a package with some significant performance chops, as well. Total system horsepower is 434, with 406 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, top speed 140. When the electric range is used up and the hybrid kicks in, it averages a combined city/highway 21 miles per gallon, according to the EPA. There's also all-wheel drive with a twin-speed transfer case, an eight-speed automatic transmission, Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system with selectable driving and off-road modes, low traction launch, hill descent control, dynamic air suspension with automatic access height and adaptive dynamics, and 22-inch alloy wheels.
Beyond all that, the Range Rover Sport, like the larger Range Rover, has been treated to a complete re-design inside and out. Sleeker bodywork, a three-inch longer wheelbase, with shorter front and rear overhangs are the major bullet points for the body and exterior, while inside, it's a completely new design with updated materials and textures. The 2023 Range Rover Sport Autobiography starts at $105,675 (including destination) and comes with a substantial list of standard equipment---LED headlights, automatic high-beam assist, black brake calipers, rain-sensing wipers, semi-aniline leather seats, an SV bespoke leather upgrade, suede cloth headliner, four-zone climate control with air quality sensing, soft door close, a panoramic roof with a power unblind, power, heated, and vented massaging front seats and power reclining heated and vented rear seats, a Meridian surround sound system,a 13.1-inch touchscreen, wireless device charging with signal booster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration and a full suite of active safety features.
Our tester had some extra-cost options, as well: $1,400 for a "full non-leather upgrade", $710 for the Varesine Blue paint, $640 for the Cold Climate Pack (heated windscreen, heated washer jets and heated steering wheel), $500 for a 22-inch full size spare, $360 for enabled Wi-Fi with a data plan, and $300 for a premium non-leather steering wheel.
All of that makes the bottom line of the window sticker read $109,585.
While that price tag likely induced a sharp intake of breath, let's put it in perspective. I reviewed a 2019 Range Rover Sport on the old TireKicker site. It was a mild hybrid with less horsepower, no plug-in or pure electric capabilities and lower fuel economy. And its price tag, adjusted for inflation, was $123,337. So on all counts, the 2023 Range Rover Sport Autobiography is a significant improvement over what was already a powerful, stylish luxury vehicle. If you have the means, 2035 is now.